Top 8 Dog Breeds for Search and Rescue Work

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Most dogs have a super sense of smell compared to us humans. In fact, they have about 220 million olfactory receptors (odor sensors), and we only have about five million. However, some dog breeds have better sniffers than others. Hounds are the top sniffers, while sporting dogs are pretty good too. Some are just obvious, while others may surprise you. But search and rescue dogs have to be more than just scent detectives. The best rescue dogs have to be social but dedicated, enjoy work as well as play, not be scared by loud noises or crowds, and be intelligent and easy to train. Here are the top pooches for search and rescue work.

#1. Bloodhound

The Bloodhound has the most scent sensors of all the poochies, with over 300 million! While related to the Basset, they are built for scenting with a long head, big nostrils, and long ears to scoop up the scents. In addition, they are loyal, intelligent, and easy to train, as well as persistent with energy that lasts for days.

#2. Basset Hound

The Basset Hound is similar to the Bloodhound, but does not have as many smell receptors, only a measly 275 million. But, unlike their cousin, these pups are lower to the ground, so they can get down into the scenting area easier. This breed is also known to be friendly, easy to train, and smart.

#3. Coonhound

While these canine kids were bred for hunting, their pawesome sense of smell makes them good at search and rescue as well. There are several different types of Coonhounds, but they are all great scenting dogs that are built for endurance and speed, as well as the ability to learn quickly and follow directions. Whether you've got a Bluetick Coonhound or a Redbone Coonhound, you're sure to have a great sniffer on your hands!
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#4. Beagle

The smallest of the hounds, the Beagle is even shorter than the Basset and has just as many scent receptors, but their ears are not as long. They do great at search and rescue because of their desire to please and their endurance. They have a 90% success rate in detecting contraband, so their noses are furtastic.

#5. Saint Bernard

These big furballs were commonly used to find victims of avalanches in the Swiss Alps. Saint Bernards would go out in pairs, and when they would find a victim, one would stay to keep the victim warm with their thick fur, while the other went back for help.

#6. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd may not have as many smell sensors as the hounds and hunters, but they can scent out a victim with ease and have been working with the military and police for centuries. They’re one of the most intelligent and loyal dogs around that can learn anything you want to teach them.

#7. Labrador Retriever

This breed is found on almost every list of the top dogs for all kinds of activities and traits. Not only are they good-natured and friendly, but they are also brave, smart, and can smell just as good as a German Shepherd. Labradors are often used in bomb, drug, and arson work on police forces. 

#8. Belgian Malinois

Another breed that is used by the military and police is the Belgian Malinois. They are great at scenting and have been used for finding explosives, drugs, and even cancer. These poochies are super smart and quick to learn anything you ask of them, and they have plenty of energy to boot.